The Golden Bird
Disclamer: Don't own Gundam Wing

I stand alone in the camp. Iím surrounded by people yet Iím alone. I hack endlessly at the dry ground, praying to find what they want. Then I realize they donít want anything. They want to me and the rest of my comrades. They want us to suffer. I wonder why. It doesnít make sense. But what does make sense anymore? Nothing is clear to me as it used to be. Now weíre back to the small cabin where we are being held prisoner. Prisoner of War. Thes and I are all tired. Hilde glances at me. "Relena?" "What?" I answer her and look back at her. She looks like me deep circles under her eyes from no sleep, gaunt from malnutrition and pale from the cold. Icy bitter cold shattering the world around us, making our teeth click as we try to break the surface of the ground. I shudder as I remove what I can barely call a shoe, and my foot hits the icy cement floor. "They sayÖ" She speaks slowly for she can barely get out the words, "That we will have a new roommate." I look around. I see the other s, three of them all almost sleeping. The frosty silence left between us is soon shattered by our door bursting open. In stepped two men in matching uniforms, looking at us. We all stand to attention, awaiting their bitter yells as they leave the door open. The wind chills our very bones but we do not bother to flinch. "This is your new roommate," one barks, shoving forward an already pale , "Show her where she will sleep." They left, slamming the door. We stare at her for a moment. Her hair is in a limp ponytail, with several strands hanging down her face. "What?" she asks. She thinks we are staring at her. We are, but we do not tell her that. The other three went to sleep. Hildeís bunk was next to mine. She sat on it, looking into the ís eyes. "What is your name, little one?" she asks the little . "Iím not little. Iím thirteen years old. They call me Phoenix. What do they call you?" "They call me Hilde. Thatís Relena." Hilde gestured towards me. "The bunk above mine is open," I say to her, offering her the last bed in the room, because I know there wonít be another. She just nods and climbs up in order to collapse upon it. Soon she along with the rest of the room falls asleep. All but me. I lay awake, for a reason unknown to me. I can feel the thin cotton of the gray sheets, see the dim walls, and feel my thin clothes, barely draped over my shoulder. Itís all I can do to stay awake. Phoenix was strange. She was defensive of herself. I had a feeling that would be what got her into trouble. I donít know whether or not Iíll be right. The cruel torment of these men never ceases, they will not rest until they have every last bit of joy out of torturing us. I finally drift into the blackness of sleep wondering what the new day will bring.

~~~~~~~~~

"Relena!" called a gruff voice. I try to pay no attention. Whenever I have name to one of these soldiers it means something bad. If I canít "hear" them they canít hurt me. "RELENA!" repeated the voice. It was angry now. "You rang?" I say, then wishing I hadnít. I made his eyes flare and his face turn red. He was angrier. "Phoenix, has told me something." "Really?" I answer trying to sound casual. Inside my mind raced. How had Phoenix found out? She had only been there one night. How did she know? "Yes. She told me that you were nice to her." I breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. She didnít know. Nobody knew my secret. Yet.

~~~~~~~~

"Iím going to get in so much trouble if they find out." I sighed. "I know," he said, stroking my hair, "But so will I." "You canít get in trouble. Theyíll think you did it as ." "The way we have to live is ." "I wish they would decide if they want me alive or ." "I know. So do I." "Would you try and keep them from me?" "I have been," he answered, his eyes staring off into the dark sky. I looked up at him, wondering why it had to be this way. Why we had to meet in secret. Why we were stuck like this. Why he hadnít turned me in yet. "Aishiteru, Relena." "Aishiteru." Then he was gone.

~~~~~~~~

It was the next day. No one but Hilde knew about my nightly disappearances. She didnít want to know, but I told her anyway. I felt like if I didnít, I would explode. "Theyíll kill you if they find out about this you know." "I donít care," I answered, "If they do find out then my agony will be over. It makes no difference anymore." "Weíre going to get out of here Relena. The war is going to end. You and him are going to be happy and be together and never have to let go and Iíll be smiling. Smiling for you." "Someone around here needs to smile." Phoenix was behind us. I whirled "How much did you hear?" I demanded. "Enough. Enough to get you out of here." Hildeís mouth fell. "You wouldnít." "Youíre right. I wouldnít. And thereís a reason." Our expectant silence made her keep talking, "Two nights ago I was here for the first time. But after the guards left you all pretty much fell over and slept like the . But you Relena, and you Hilde talked to me, learned my name, told me yours and offered a place for me to sleep. Let this be a lesson to you. Kindness doesnít fail with me or human beings. Which would explain why those idiots that watch us donít fall into the category of human." We all smiled for the first time in a long time. Then we went out to work. Phoenix was alongside us, humming a little tune. "What are you humming?" asked Hilde. "Itís a song that I learned at church. Itís called ĎShout to the Lordí. Do you want to know it?" She and I nodded in agreement. Soon we knew it and were singing. "My Jesus My savior Lord there is none like you All of my days I want to praise The wonders of your mighty love My comfort My shelter Tower of Refuge and Strength Let every breath All that I am Never cease to worship you" Then in came the chorus "Shout to the Lord All the earth let us sing Power and Majesty praise to the king Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name I sing for joy at the work of your hands Forever Iíll love you forever Iíll stand Nothing compares to the promise I have in You" We kept singing the same song. Some of the others picked it up and sung at the chorus sometimes. Others yelled at us to shut up before we got them all in trouble. Others pretended not to hear and shut out all of the noises around them. The men that guarded us did nothing. They seemed indifferent like the others around us. It surprised me a little but Phoenix did not seem to care. Later that night, Phoenix taught us more songs. She was not critical. She taught us the words and the tune. We took it from there. She sang the descant. She had a lovely soprano voice that I felt angels would envy. Nothing could have made me smile more than to hear her sing. I wished that it would never end. We sang during the day and the work went by faster. All the while Phoenix was the loveliest her voice being like a shining star in the gray camp. It was as ideal as it gets when you are a prisoner of war. Things had to get worse. And they did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was late again. I was with him. He was holding me and whispering. "I miss you." "And I you." "I wish this stupid war would end." "War never solves anything." I looked into his eyes. Those eyes those blue eyes that held me suspending reality for only an instant then telling me I was loved. He hugged me one more. "Ja ne." "Bye, Heero."

~~~~~~~~~~

"Phoenix!" called the voice. Phoenix stepped out of the line. A guard held her arms behind her and the whole camp was present. "Sir?" Phoenixís eyes pierced, "What do I owe this visit?" "You must tell us the answer." "The answer will be given in due time." The guard sighed. "Let her go. Sheís no good to us . The rest of you! To work!" The ordered was barked to the point of which we ran to the edge. Heero was one of the guards watching us. His eyes, the same that had suspended my reality only hours earlier had grown cold, his expression stony. I knew that was his soldier face. He used to do it in the middle of a funny conversation and it would make me laugh. Now it just reminds me that he is one of them by day. Phoenix came over to me. "I must tell you the answer." Her whisper was barely audible. "What is the question?" "Never mind. I feel that something bad is going to happen to me. If what I feel is true, then we will never be free. That is why you must know the answer. I will give it to you after work. Do not open it. Just hold on to it. Tell no one. It is vital to the fate of these s that you keep the answer a secret. Someday they will ask you for it. Do not give it to them. Open it after they ask you. Then you will understand and know what to do. Not before." All I could do was nod. The day dragged on slower, for not even Phoenix wanted
to sing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was early. Too early. Yet we were being awoken. I noticed that Phoenix wasnít walking with us. Phoenix wasnít in the cabin. Why not? We were lined up as always before work. Phoenix was back. She was being held by the arms again, protesting as they led her up the hill to where they stood. One eye was black. "Phoenix. What is the answer?" "I would never tell a pig like you. You are a coward to say the least." "Guards hold her." The other guard began to hit her in the stomach. "You are a true coward. You have your," she grunted as he hit her stomach again, "Minions hold me while you beat me. Why is that? Are you afraid youíll lose if you donít hold me?" Another groan. Phoenix gritted her teeth, "You have to hold me because youíre afraid youíll lose to a thirteen year old . Thatís it. You call yourself a soldier but that is a lie. You are nothing but a coward. Youíre a Mamaís Boy." "Stop!" "MAMAíS BOY! MAMAíS BOY!" she kept yelling. "LET HER GO!" the guard roared. The others obliged afraid of what would happen. "So you arenít afraid anymore." Phoenix jumped from foot to foot switching her weight rapidly. She blocked his first hit and his second. She managed to knock him down. The next thing seemed to happen in slow motion. The guard rose and drew his gun. Phoenix kept hopping. Her eyes grew wide for a moment as a gunshot ed through the silence. She fell to the ground clutching her stomach. Heeroís perfect soldier face fell into a shocked open-mouthed grimace. Phoenix lay on the ground, spurting from her stomach. I gasp in shock. Phoenix was . She was wide-eyed on the ground, her hands limp at her side. At last there was color in the camp. But it is red. The camp was stained with Phoenixís . And the bed, that I thought would never be empty again, was.

~~~~~~~~~

Nearly a month later I was called over by the same guard that had killed Phoenix. My eyes pierced his, cold and ful at the crime he committed against all of us. "What do you want?" "Do you have the answer?" "No." "Are you sure?" "Yes." "You have the answer." "No." "That was a statement not a question." "I have it." "Good. What is it?" "I would never tell a scum like you." "GET OUT! YOU ARE WORSE THAN THAT PHOENIX !!! GET OUT BEFORE I KILL YOU LIKE I KILLED HER!!!" "YOU ARE MORE DISHONORABLE THAN ALL THE REST OF THE WORLD PUT TOGETHER!!" I then ran from where we were standing. Just in time to miss dinner. Excellent. I went back to the cabin and opened the sheet of paper. " Now you know, he was after it. You are meeting him tonight are you not?" The note started talking about Heero, "He is a boy with broken wings. He will risk his life to save you and Hilde. You and Hilde must get out. Your angel will help you. He will know what to do. You must ask. He is the answer." Heero? Heero was the answer? Thatís inconceivable. How could he be the answer? "She always seemed to know what would happens before it happened didnít she?" said a voice. It was Hilde, "Do you really think he is the answer?" "I will do what it says. Phoenix died to protect us and we must not shame her memory. I will go to him and ask." I donít know what possessed me to do it. But it was too late to stop now. "Heero, I need to ask your help." "What is it angel?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"You two must be silent. He wakes easily, but hopefully not very." Heero was helping them sneak past the night guard. He was asleep. Heero, Hilde and I crept over to the Jeep. Heero almost inaudibly turned the key. The engine started and instinctively I looked back. He was still asleep. "Thank the Saints," I muttered. Heero began driving. We went down a long road that wound. Hildeís head fell onto my shoulder and lolled around. She was sleeping. "Relena?" Heero asked, once we were out of sight of the base. "Hm?" I was almost asleep. "Why did you ask for my help?" "The Golden Bird" I murmured. Then sleep overtook me. I awoke and groaned only to find Heeroís jacket on me. It took me a few moments to realize I wasnít in the camp anymore. That I had made it out. "Heero?" "Hn." "Where are we?" I felt the wind in my hair. "We are out." That was all I needed. I fell back asleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~
We did end up freeing the others later. It has been five years since the incident where we escaped. Heero and I married shortly after the war ended three years later. We have a four month old daughter. Hilde and Heeroís friend Duo were perfectly matched. They were engaged to be married in June. Most of the people I met after the war are married or engaged. Some of thes from the camp were married to people I knew. My own brother, Milliardo, is engaged to marry Lucrezia Noin. Our daughterís name? Phoenix. The Golden Bird that rescued me. I thank her to this day having placed a small memorial to her in the graveyard near our house. Someday I will tell my daughter the tale of her name. And she will know the real reason her mother is alive.
--Streak egyptgrl247@yahoo.com
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